Summoned by the King

This parable of the merciful king is not one of salvation. It’s not a sowing the seed parable or a pearl of great price parable. It’s a wheat and tares parable; a sheep and goat parable; a good vs. bad fish parable. It’s a parable about the tares, the goats and the bad fish. It’s a parable about those who say, “Lord, Lord,” but do not keep His word.

But it’s not a parable about salvation. You aren’t saved from death and hell because you forgive from the heart. You forgive from the heart because you are saved from death and hell. You forgive from the heart not in order to get a new heart, but since you have been given a new heart, you forgive from it. By saying, “Unless you forgive from your heart,” is not our Lord saying once you learn to do this you will also be forgiven. That’s absurd. How can we learn to forgive from a heart that is trapped in sin and unbelief, from which comes all manner of evil and covetous desires? Our heart must be made new. It must be reformed and reshaped. It must be recreated before it can do the things of the new creation. So we pray, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

This parable is about from whom you come and where you are going.

Consider the wicked servant. He came from the darkness of debt, summoned by the king to come into the presence of the king. Summoned so that his account would be settled by the king who want to settle his account. The king didn’t want the servant’s money or things; he wanted to settle the account with his servant. He wanted to free his servant from the great debt he owed to his king. So the king summoned him from the darkness of bondage and brought him into his presence to shine the light of freedom on the face of his servant. The pity of the king wasn’t because of the servant’s plea for patience and promise to repay all that he owed. The king’s pity was born of his own heart. For from his hear the king forgives his servant.

You have been summoned by the King. Here you are in His courtroom. Here you are in His light, gathered in His presence that He might shine His light of truth and mercy upon you, to have you pity on you and forgive your great debt. He doesn’t want to sell you into slavery, or to take from you your wife and children or anything that is yours. He wants to set you free from your debt that would have cost you everything. He has summoned you to forgive you from His heart that hung upon the cross and cancel the record of debt that would cost you everything.

Our sin costs us everything. The devil lies to you and tells you that your sin doesn’t cost you anything, that your sin is only an imaginary line between what you call good and evil; an imaginary line that separates decency and indecency. So that sin becomes nothing more than too much. It becomes the difference between money and too much money; between sex and too much sex; between drinking and too much drinking; gambling and too much gambling; gossiping and too much gossiping. The deceiver would deceive you as he has deceived the nations by making sin only a line of morality set by the comfort level of men and women. So that if you can change the comfort level then you can change what is sinful. We become comfortable with a certain amount of gossip, so we stop calling it sin. We become comfortable with a certain amount of divorce for certain reasons like the pursuit of happiness and fairy-tale love, so divorce is no longer called sin. We become comfortable with the pornography of primetime TV and PG-13 movies and the songs on our radio, so that living together before marriage, sex outside of marriage, and homosexuality cease to be sin and become morally acceptable even if it’s not our preference. We become comfortable with sex for pleasure only so that birth control is touted as good stewardship and being responsible. And the God-given mandate to procreate is set aside for the man-driven idea of family planning and freedom from responsibility in sex. What was once divine has become moralized. It is easily to grow accustom to the devil’s morals and forget the word of God. You can be sure that wherever God makes His will known, there the devil builds a morality of men to do away with the will of God. And the devil dances the jig on the graves of God’s commandments. The devil doesn’t have to convince you to disobey God, he only has to convince you to be good and that you are good, but there is only one who is good.

So the devil does his best to make the Christian faith a faith about moral behavior. If he can get the preachers to preach morals and the people to judge based on the accepted morals of men, then he has done away with sin and righteousness and the justice of God. And he has trapped us in our sin and binds us to shame. Even though we think we are good and right. And we become as the emperor who is proud of his wardrobe only to have a child proclaim that we don’t actually have any clothes. When we listen to the morals of men rather than the commands of God we become as the wicked servant who didn’t ask for forgiveness but simply asked for more time to make good his debt. And we find ourselves believing in purgatory: time we have to make up for sins of our past. How silly we are.

Ironically, if we would listen to the fairy-tales of children we would be better off. Because Jack and Jill thought to ascend the hill to take what belonged to God, and Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. Hansel and Gretel followed their heart and gathered wealth a plenty; and the witch who’d led them down the path of gluttony ate their flesh and bones. Our sin costs us everything.

But the king has pity. He forgives our debt. He cancels what we owe. He restores our lives. Our sin would cost us our wives and children, but he gives them back by forgiving our sin. Our sin would cost us our reputations and livelihoods, but the king restores them by forgiving our sin. The king forgives us wholly and completely. He’s not interested in your behavior to settle your account. He’s not interested in the money we call good works. He simply declares you debt free, freeing you from the bondage of your sin and the destruction it would cause.

You are free.

And now you go forth from the King’s presence. You go forth in the mercy and forgiveness of the great King. You go and forgive as you have been forgiven, from your heart. For your heart is here made new, created anew by the heart of all men, Christ Jesus. He is your heart and from your heart you forgive others every grievance and sin they have against you. Every lie told about you, every penny stolen from you, every defamation of your character, every pain others have caused you, whatever they have done to you and against you. You cancel their debt. You forgive from your heart who is Christ, and the light of Christ shines through you onto the face of all men.

To do otherwise is to return to the darkness of sin. To do otherwise is to mock God and call Him a liar. To do otherwise is to expose you as one who does not come from us and who is not one of us. To do otherwise is loose everything. For the one who seeks to keep his life will loose it, while the one who looses his life for Jesus’ sake and the sake of the gospel will be given eternal life. For what is required of you, O man, but to love the Lord, to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

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